A study that describes itself as the first to “specifically examine Asian American adolescents’ beliefs regarding discussions of sexual health between health care providers and Asian American adolescents” reports that Asian American youth have a lot of opinions about sex. Specifically, young Asian Americans stress that inadequate communication between themselves and their parents and healthcare providers compromises their access to adequate sexual education.
Researchers interviewed twenty young Asian Americans between 14 and 18 years old (median age was 16.7), with an even split between self-identified male and female respondents. Interviewees included Vietnamese, Chinese, Filipino, Thai, Korean and Laotian American teenagers mostly born in the United States.
In talking with these Asian American young people, investigators learned that many were dissatisfied with their own education on sexual health, and were motivated to learn more. Unfortunately, however, most of the adolescents expressed that their sources of knowledge on sex were limited: only 40% reported having had any conversation with a parent about sexual health. More shockingly, only 15% had ever discussed sexually transmitted diseases with a healthcare provider, and only 5% had ever talked to their doctors about sex, contraception, or pregnancy.
Wednesday, January 22, 2014, marked the 41st anniversary of the landmark Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision, which established a woman’s right to make her own reproductive choices — including abortion — under the Fourteenth Amendment.
Taken together, these data clearly indicate that reproductive health is a critical, if woefully under-discussed, concern for Asian American women. Furthermore, any effort to target public policies that promote reproductive health access will impact women in our community.